How difficult is it to reach the NBA? Each of the 30 professional franchises has 17 available roster spots (including space for a pair of two-way players), meaning at most 510 athletes make the cut. By comparison, 353 teams competed in Division I men’s college basketball in 2018-19.
On opening day of the 2019-20 NBA season, 128 of those schools have a player on an NBA roster. For the second year in a row, no schools have more representation around the league than Kentucky and Duke.
The Wildcats have 28 former players scattered throughout the NBA. All-stars John Wall (Washington Wizards) and Karl-Anthony Towns (Minnesota Timberwolves) have established their place in the league while 2019 first round picks PJ Washington (Charlotte Hornets), Tyler Herro (Miami Heat) and Keldon Johnson (San Antonio Spurs) are just starting out.
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Duke is the only other program with more than 20 active NBA players with 24. Kyrie Irving (Brooklyn Nets) and J.J. Redick (New Orleans Pelicans) are among the more seasoned Blue Devils. However, three were selected in the top 10 of the 2019 NBA Draft — Zion Williamson (New Orleans Pelicans), RJ Barrett (New York Knicks) and Cam Reddish (Atlanta Hawks). In total, the 24 names are spread across 16 rosters, but five reside in New Orleans. A third of the Pelicans’ roster once called Cameron Indoor home.
Only six other schools — North Carolina (14), UCLA (13), Arizona (11), Kansas (11), Texas (11) and Michigan (10) — have double-digit representation across the league. Each of the eight teams with 10 or more players competes in a power conference (ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, SEC). Those conferences account for 79.4 percent of all college players currently on NBA rosters.
|Gulf South (DII)||1|
Overall, 84.6 percent of NBA players reached the next level after playing in college.
Here’s the full ranking of every NCAA school with players on NBA opening day rosters.
|New Mexico State||2|
|San Diego State||2|
|Cal State Long Beach||1|
|College of Charleston||1|
|Florida Gulf Coast||1|
|SE Missouri State||1|